BDS resolution narrowly rejected at George Washington U.
- After more than four hours of contentious debate, the George Washington University student government rejected a proposal to divest from companies that do business with Israel.
- The resolution failed by a single vote, with one senator abstaining.
In the wee hours Tuesday morning, George Washington University’s student government narrowly rejected a resolution demanding that the school sell its holdings in companies connected to Israel.
The final tally of 15-14-1 came only after more than four hours of contentious debate between students on either side of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) measure, with occasional bouts of hyperbole.
Supporters of the resolution argued that by investing in companies like Boeing and Hewlett-Packard, the university makes itself complicit in the terrorism that they claim Israelis commit against Palestinians. Opponents, meanwhile, countered that it was little more than a political statement taking sides in the enormously complicated Israel-Palestine issue.
“The sponsors of this resolution are making a ridiculous claim that this resolution is somehow divorced from the greater conflict, but the truth is, you cannot, with any sort of intellectual honesty, divorce this proposal from the greater political undertones of the conflict,” freshman Shep Gerszberg told the student government. “Saying that divestment does not take a stance on the larger issue is to ignore the fact that these incidents occurred during a bilateral conflict, with two narratives and two sides that have each suffered and had losses.”
Resolution co-sponsor Keiko Tsuboi, however, countered that the resolution was intended to help GW students who are “suffering” from Israel’s actions, defending it as a legitimate expression of dissent.
“You hear these stories. There is Palestinian suffering on this campus too, without talking about...the state of Israel,” she declared. “And doing so, I don’t feel like I’m delegitimizing a state. I think I’m drawing attention to the practices of the state similar to how many of us have drawn attention to the practices of our own state.”
Introduced by a student coalition called Divest This Time at GW, the resolution accused companies like Boeing, Caterpillar, and Hewlett-Packard of complicity in “the furthering of Palestinian suffering” because they provide military and industrial equipment to the Israeli government.
"I applaud the Student Association for rejecting this divisive, factually incorrect divestment resolution," GW for Israel member Jake Barnette told the pro-Israel group StandWithUs in a statement.
"After working with such an incredible team to educate our community on the conflict and the harmful effects of this resolution, I realize that our activism cannot stop there,” he added, vowing to work toward creating “a campus where every student believes their voice matters."
The GW Hatchet recorded a four-hour video of the debate over the BDS resolution, which is available on Facebook.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JacksonRichman